A project to provide every UK teacher with a grounding in understanding mental health issues so they can spot problems early and help troubled pupils is one of four programmes to be awarded a share of a US $200,000 fund announced today at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) 2017.
The awards under the Varkey Foundation Challenge Fund – which aims to support education projects that have the potential to achieve significant lasting impact – also include grants for programmes in Uganda, Slovakia and the Middle East.
The award to Invincible Me, a UK children’s mental health charity, comes after a survey published in January 2017 by the Department for Education found fewer than two in five teachers believed they could get help for pupils’ mental health problems.
One in four people in the UK will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their lives, with mental illness often starting in childhood.
The Challenge Fund award will support the design and implementation of personal and professional development resources to help teachers work more effectively with the children in their care. It will help them increase their skills and ability to support children with complex emotional needs, help pupils build up their own resilience and also fund tools and techniques to manage teachers’ own wellbeing.
The other projects receiving grants are:
- Teach for Uganda, which recruits promising university graduates to teach in under-served communities and schools in Kamira in Luwero District, central Uganda, which will benefit an estimated 4,500 students beginning in the 2018 academic year;
- Komensky institute (Slovakia), to help establish a teacher training programme that encourages independent thought, creativity, and seeks to inspire a society which uses critical reflection and create an inspirational space for pedagogical leaders of Slovakia;
- National Teacher Prizes in the Arab World and Eastern Europe, a grant to the Arab Campaign for the Education of All (ACEA), led by the Teacher Creativity Center, to help pilot National Teacher Prizes in 15 Middle Eastern and East European countries (Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen, Sudan, Mauritania, Georgia, Albania and Armenia).
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said:
“The aim of the Challenge Fund is to support innovative early-stage programmes which have the potential for far-reaching impact and scaleability.
“The projects receiving funding are deserving recipients and support the Varkey Foundation’s vision for every child to have the right to a stimulating learning environment and a great teacher that supports their full potential.”
Amy Shocker, Executive Director of Invincible Me, said:
“We are so grateful to the Varkey Foundation for this award, which will enable Invincible Me to start on what we hope will be a long and meaningful journey working with teachers and schools to bring about a profound transformation in the way we support children’s mental health.
“I can’t imagine being a teacher today and not having any understanding of common mental health issues. Teachers today cannot just walk into their classroom and teach their lessons; they need to do what they can to ensure their students are in an optimal position to learn, and that means addressing their wellbeing on an ongoing basis.”
The grants will be implemented from April for a maximum of one year. This is the second tranche of awards under the fund, after four projects received a share of US $200,000 last year.
As well as receiving funding from the Varkey Foundation, some of the 2016 and 2017 grantees under the Challenge Fund will be participating in a ‘Dragons’ Den-style’ event at GESF by making face-to-face funding ‘pitches’ to potential investors.